Why Kids Need Back to School Eye Exams

An expert explains the benefits of yearly testing

You may be knee deep in school supplies as the new year approaches, but don’t forget about your children’s health, especially their eyes. Ophthalmologist Rishi Singh, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute, says it’s never a bad idea to have your child’s eyesight checked at the start of each new school year.

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During adolescence, a child’s eyesight can change very quickly. Then, another shift can happen during puberty, Dr. Singh says.

“It is important to have your children’s eyes evaluated before starting school.  The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an eye evaluation once before the age of 3 and every one to two years until the age of 19.” Dr. Singh says.

Even preschoolers should see an ophthalmologist to make sure their eyes are aligned and focusing properly, he adds.

Dr. Singh says that signs that your child might be having visual problems might become more apparent when the child’s classroom seat location changes from one year to the next. In addition, if you notice crossed eyes, lazy eyes, or drooping of the eyelid, Dr. Singh recommends you should have the child evaluated by an ophthalmologist. 

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When it comes to contact lenses, Dr. Singh offers some caveats. He says high school kids can get them as long as they’re ready for the responsibility.

“Unfortunately, contact lens use can lead to severe eye infections especially if you sleep in your lenses.  Your chance of getting infection is almost 20 times higher by doing so,” he adds.  Dr. Singh says if your child plays sports and wears prescription goggles, it’s a good idea to have that prescription checked, too.

When it comes to your children’s eyes, being proactive is important and has many benefits.

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